About a third of the women surveyed were uninsured, a third were on Medicaid, and a third had private coverage. Overall, 57% of the women paid for their own abortions, while 13% got financial assistance such as help from a nonprofit, and 20% had procedures paid for by Medicaid, which covers abortion using state dollars in some states. According to previous Guttmacher research, the average amount paid for an abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation, the point by which most are performed, was $413 in 2006, though they can cost more if they come later in the pregnancy.
Of the women that did have private insurance coverage, 63% still paid for their own abortions, possibly reflecting that some plans didn’t cover the procedure. Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at Guttmacher, suggested that some women might have chose to pay themselves so the abortion wouldn’t be in their insurance records, or they mightn’t know their plans covered abortion.
This fact is important. Not because it means that we shouldn’t be fighting for health care coverage of abortion, but that our existing systems already fall short in the abortion care arena.
How many women weren’t able to access an abortion they wanted because of lack of funds? An report by the National Network of Abortion Funds estimates that as many as one in three low-income women who carried the pregnancies to term would have had an abortion if they’d had access to funding.
The study also highlighted the fact that a large percentage of women having abortions are low-income.
The proportion of abortion patients who were poor increased by almost 60%–from 27% in 2000 to 42% in 2008, according to “Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008,” by Rachel K. Jones, Lawrence B. Finer and Susheela Singh of the Guttmacher Institute. This shift is the most striking change in the profile of women obtaining abortions.
This is not surprising, considering that the number of women in poverty has increased, and it’s difficult to choose to parent when you don’t have the resources to support a child.
Lastly, Kay Steiger at Campus Progress pulled out this fact:
The Guttmacher study notes that nearly half of all women obtaining an abortion had been in a relationship for a year or longer with the man who had impregnated her. Although unmarried women make up the vast majority of those seeking an abortion (85 percent), 29 percent of those women were co-habitating with their partners.
This kind of research is key to abortion myth-busting and tailoring services and policy proposals to the actual realities of women seeking abortions, not the narrative that gets popularized by rhetoric and politics.